Med-Surg Immune System, part 7: HIV and AIDS - Signs, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

by Cathy Parkes October 02, 2020

In this video


  • Pathophysiology of HIV
  • Risk factors for HIV
  • Signs and symptoms of HIV
  • HIV lab values
  • Diagnosis of HIV


  • Criteria of AIDS
  • Signs and symptoms of AIDS
  • AIDS treatment
  • Patient teaching for AIDS
    • Safe sex
    • CD4+ count monitoring
    • Prevent infection

Full Transcript

Hi. In this video, we are going to talk about HIV, which is human immunodeficiency virus, as well as AIDS. If you are following along with cards, I'm on Card 16.

So HIV is a retrovirus that causes decreased immunity in the patient and increased susceptibility to infections. [Pathophysiology] The virus enters the body through the blood or bodily fluids and it targets the CD4-plus lymphocytes, so those are those helper T cells that we talked about in one of the first videos in this playlist. This results in immunodeficiency, autoimmunity, and neurologic dysfunction.

In terms of the risk factors that place an individual at high risk for HIV, those factors include unprotected sex, multiple sex partners, perinatal exposure, so if a baby is born to an HIV-positive mom, then they would be at high risk for HIV, IV drug use, and then healthcare workers is also a risk factor. So that's your little reminder to do everything you can to prevent needlestick injuries and exposure to blood and bodily fluids whenever possible.

In terms of signs and symptoms of HIV, those include flu-like symptoms, lymphadenopathy, so it's enlarged lymph nodes, thrush, which is a fungal infection on the tongue, weakness, night sweats, fever, weight loss, and rashes.

In terms of the labs, when patients have HIV, their white blood cell count will be decreased. In addition, their CD4+ count will also be decreased. It will be under 500.

In terms of diagnosis of HIV, if the patient has a positive ELISA test, we would confirm that with a Western blot test.

And then if HIV goes kind of untreated, then that CD4+ count can come even lower. And if it falls below 200, that is indicative of AIDS, which is acquired immunodeficiency syndrome.

And the signs and symptoms of AIDS is much worse. So these include Kaposi's sarcoma, which is cancer of the skin and the soft tissue. The patient may have tuberculosis, pneumonia, wasting syndrome, candidiasis of the airways, so that's a fungal infection that affects the whole respiratory system, and a whole host of other infections as well.

In terms of treatment for HIV and AIDS, the patient would receive ART, A-R-T, which stands for antiretroviral therapy. So they're going to be on numerous antivirals for the rest of their lives.

In terms of patient teaching, it's going to be important to reiterate the need for safe sex. We also want to encourage PrEP, P-R-E-P, which is pre-exposure prophylaxis, for uninfected sexual partners.

We're definitely going to want to emphasize the need for ongoing monitoring of the patient's CD4+ count.

And then, we definitely want our patient to prevent infection because their immune system is compromised. So they should have really good hand hygiene. They should bathe daily with antimicrobial soap. They should avoid raw and undercooked foods as well as fresh plants. They should not clean their cat litter boxes. And they should avoid crowds and sick people as well.

Okay, so that's it for HIV and AIDS. When I come back, we will dig into cancer and the remaining videos in this playlist will be focused on cancer. So I hope this has been informative and that you're learning a lot. If so, be sure to subscribe to our channel and like the video, and I'll see you soon!

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